Many of us know how challenging it can be to speak in front of large groups of people and potentially not feel comfortable as you normally may for one reason or another. This went to a new level during the airing of 94th Academy Awards hosted by Chris Rock. Award shows like the Oscars for many years, 93 out of 94 anyway, have been happy occasions, with achievements being celebrated in front of their peers and the general public alike.
There are always going to be memorable moments, from the attire, performances and the speeches. However, for many viewers this past show, the most memorable moment actually took place after a joke did not land as clean as Chris Rock intended. What did land pretty cleanly was an open hand slap across Rock's face delivered by Will Smith. This event has left viewers and Hollywood insiders both shocked and split on what the correct course of actions should, could and might be. As with many things this day and age, the public also began to weigh in as well. One of the big topics that was debated online was the authenticity of it all. Questions like, where was security, why did Rock just stand there, and many more details being closely examined to frame a point of view. On the surface, there were ample opportunities for many people to wonder, and create a case that the whole thing was actually staged. Was this whole event just actors acting and selling us for a ratings boost? We aren't sure but at this point in time, it looks like the penalties of the fallout are indeed real.
Will Smith has since apologized to Chris Rock in front of his social media followers and resigned from the Academy on April 1st. This came just days after the board announced they intended to conduct a board meeting on April 18th to take disciplinary actions after their planned investigation which started on March 30th. Due to the resignation, the board meeting was moved up to April 8th. The following statement was released as a result of this meeting.
"During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented. Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation.
The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.
We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.
This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
While 10 years may seem extreme to some and not enough for others, it certainly doesn't mean we have seen or heard the last from Will Smith. In conclusion, the last line of the statement may give us a clue; "a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted." As the old saying goes, "time heals all wounds" may certainly play a future part once again with everyone involved here, and with that, only time will tell.